This is the world we live in
Last night, we talked about how we want to control our circumstances. We want to be loved, to be needed, to be obeyed. We want things to work out the way we would have them. Our kids will all grow up to be brain surgeons and marry good Christians and give us perfect grandchildren. Our spouse will not only be forever faithful, but he will shower us with love and attention, bringing home flowers and candy (which will magically not make us fat) every day. And no one we love will ever die or get sick or be sad EVER.
But we don’t live in that world.
I have been in recent communications with my ex regarding putting our children in a different school. Yesterday, we had scheduled to meet with the school that I would like to put them in. Roughly 15 minutes after we were supposed to meet, I texted him only to find out that not only was he all of a sudden not coming, but had apparently forgotten our whole month long conversation about exactly why their current school was no longer satisfactory. Typical. I said to myself, “I knew it. This is just exactly the kind of crap he would pull. He’s going to string me along and then decide last minute to do whatever he wants.” As the anger began to rise, I stopped and realized: “Yes, this IS exactly the kind of thing I have come to expect from him. So why on Earth should I be angry when he behaves the way I already know he will?” Immediately, the ire drained away and I pictured the worst possible outcome and asked myself if I would be okay with that. If I can accept the worst, then I can accept anything.
Sometimes life gives you worse than the worst, though. As I walked the halls, touring the school with the principal, she pointed out some of the ways that they have incorporated new methodologies, new technologies and new safety features to provide the best educational experience they can. She told me how they will do occasional spontaneous drills just like we used to do fire and tornado drills. These drills are different though. They have taught the children how to hide in case an armed assailant comes into the school and opens fire. The children learn how to immediately drop what they are doing and run for the closest, best cover no matter where they are. It’s like the world’s most terrifying game of hide and seek.
I looked at her in horror and she simply told me that these are things they have to think about now since Sandy Hook. And I know. I know that it is a good thing that this school is prepared, and these children know what to do if the unimaginable were to happen here. But I cry, God, why does it have to be like this? I just looked down and nodded, then told her what had happened in Boston, not an hour prior. Being in school all day, she had not yet heard the news. We shared a brief, “I can’t believe what is going on nowadays,” then continued on with the tour.
And all over the net, everyone’s talking about the latest atrocities. “Pray for Boston” memes are posted all over Facebook. People are posting photographs of the dead and injured before the families are even aware that their loved ones were hurt. The New York Times, in an effort to get out in front of the media frenzy, makes up false reports to make it seem even worse than it is. Then, of course, comes the politicizing. I don’t even want to know what they are saying, so I stopped looking.
But life goes on. We absorb these travesties, say a prayer, share a meme and keep moving forward. I don’t want to sound blasé about it, but even when faced with worse than the worst, we still live. I read an article that same morning about Anne Frank (and whether or not she would’ve been a Belieber – seriously?) and that is who I think about in the face of this terrorism. These sorts of things aren’t new. All throughout history, the most unimaginable horrors have been visited upon the human race. And still we live. We persevere in the face of adversity. Thousands of people got married yesterday… some in Boston, even. Hundreds of thousands of babies were born yesterday. Somewhere, a little girl received her first kiss and another heard the good news that her cancer was in remission. Even during times of tragedy, flowers of love and hope still bloom.
As Anne Frank made the most of her young life, I doubt she was joyful about her situation. I’m sure that anyone would’ve chosen a much different life for themself if they could. She didn’t bemoan the fact that she could not control her circumstances, throw a fit and make matters worse. She endured, and thrived, in her captivity and proved to us that it can be done. Life goes on, if we allow it. But first we must understand that we are not in control; that God has his hands on this life and even though we sometimes suffer, He will use our suffering to His Good. Whatever the circumstances, we cannot just lie down and die because things are inconvenient or unfortunate or tragic or unimaginably worse than the worst. This is the world we live in. It is not perfect. It is not how we would have it. But it is our world and we must learn to live in it.